Support your local cheese maker

While the British Cheese Weekender to support cheese makers was good fun (8-10 May), I fear that the move out of lockdown in many countries is just going to be the start of troubles for the average cheese maker.

Some restaurants are re-opening, but with greatly reduced customers due to the continuing concerns over social distancing and the requirements of space. And some restaurants just may never reopen, having been overcome by a shortage of cash or caught short at the time of the lockdowns. Further, the giant increase in global unemployment isn’t conducive to people going out to eat either. If there is no money or worries over where the next paycheque is coming from, people stay home to eat.

These outlets are a large portion of business and lifelines for many small artisan cheese makers, and their woes are the industry’s. This week we had more than one artisanal cheese maker discuss how they are working on reaching out in their communities to provide vegetable boxes and other supplies to local addresses, while trying to constrain the milk supply, so that producers are not pouring away milk. While this business has increased dramatically, it won’t quite make up the restaurant and food service trade.

So, the question is what to do about it. Wherever you live in the world, order from your local cheese makers for a start. Even with lockdowns easing, think about what you can do to continue to enjoy artisanal cheese, rather than just going and buying whatever is on offer at the supermarkets. If we don’t support these cheese makers now, we will turn around in a few years’ time and they will no longer be there. Valuable heritages and brands will be lost and we will all be the poorer for it.

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